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Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 a year of progress for Cincinnati preservationists

2009 was a year full of progress for preservation advocates in Cincinnati. Several important structures were saved from the wrecking ball, new public policy is being implemented to help prevent additional demolitions, and Cincinnati’s historic neighborhoods reaped the many benefits of restoration investment.

This year the Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) has recognized six different individuals, organizations, and projects that represent “outstanding accomplishment in local preservation.” The awards included a new award for Special Recognition that went to the Meiner Flats building in Over-the-Rhine.

Meiner Flats was built in 1875 by a family of German-American stonemasons and is one of the tallest buildings in historic Over-the-Rhine. After sitting vacant for roughly two decades the building was ordered to be demolished by the City. The Special Recognition award was presented to Danny Klingler, among others, who helped bring attention to the building and save it from the wrecking ball thanks to generous donations from Cincinnatians, 3CDC, and the City of Cincinnati.

[Above] 13th & Republic in OTR's Gateway Quarter. [Below] Rader Gallery building at Liberty and Main streets in OTR. Photos provided by Mike Stehlin.

Rookwood Pottery took home the Craftsmanship Award for restoring the proud Rookwood tradition which includes the first female-led manufacturing firm in the country, the best-known art pottery in the U.S., and one of Cincinnati’s most famous companies that was started back in 1880. In 2006 new ownership acquired all of the remaining assets of the original Rookwood Pottery and has moved into a massive 100,000 square-foot structure in Over-the-Rhine near Findlay Market.

Other awards handed out by CPA include the following:

  • Education Award: Elizabeth Meyer for her instrumental work in preserving original documents, drawings, photographs, and other resources pertaining to Cincinnati Modernist buildings.
  • Rehabilitation Awards: Luedeking House in East Walnut Hills has been meticulously restored over the past five years and has restored the home’s previous grandour. 2312 Park Avenue in Walnut Hills also received this award following an adaptive renovation that now houses the offices of Vivian Llambi & Associates.
  • Sustainability Award: Veraestau Historic Site in Aurora, Indiana took home the Sustainability Award for its incorporation of progressive conservation practices in addition to its preservation efforts that included a new geothermal heating and cooling system.


Brian & Eric said...

Excitement about this "progress" should be tempered by the fact that the City of Cincinnati has decimated the staffing and funding for its preservation office. What was an office of 4 highly qualified professionals less than 18 months ago, is now down to 1 1/2, led by someone who has no background in preservation at all. There's no funding, no staff capacity, and no will on the part of the director of City Planning to implement any of the mentioned public policy changes (no matter what Mike Morgan or Roxanne Qualls says). Yes, CPA can give out some awards, but I'd suggest that 2009 was a pretty bad year for preservation in Cincinnati. I fear 2010 will be worse, due to the lack of priority put on preservation by the City.

Randy Simes said...

Good points, but I guess I'm just more optimistic than most. The Education Award was given out for a tremendous accomplishment and one that should be recognized for being very important.

The rehabilitation awards are given out every year, but what happened with Meiner Flats was particularly encouraging and positive. What will prove most valuable to OTR in coming years will be 3CDC's dedication to preservation, but new policy preventing additional demolitions from taking place would also be critical.

Paul Wilham said...

Despite some minor 'saves' in 2009. Preservation in Cincinnati continues to be a losing battle. Most locals, who do not understnd how most cities use Preservation as an economic development tool, would be shocked at how things work in the real world.How real Preservation offices do their job and how real inspectors work.

The VBML program continues to drive millions of dollars in restoration and redevelopment to Covington and Newport while OTR struggled to hold on to the building left. Other cities are being creative, Using CDBG funds for facade grant programs or offering rebates of permit fees when you buy foreclosed historic property and our city throws up more and more road blocks.

The fact the city has allocated 1.1 Million dollars in CDBG Community Development Block grant monies for Demolition in 2010, speak volumes about the disater we are looking at in the next decade.

We are well on our way to becoming the next Detroit, if this administration and this council continue on the path they are on. That "new and shiny" is better, and a vacant lot is better than a 100 year old house.

Local preservationists are "kidding themselves" if they believe the city is actually listening to Preservation Concerns. If they were we wouldnt be adding 20-30 houses a month to the demo list.

We should not pat ourselves on the back for a few sucesses when we have lost so much this year and added hundreds more properties to the keep vacant and condemn list.

Randy Simes said...


I understand your frustrations, but I think it's important to celebrate your successes while also identifying what needs to be improved. It can become very depressing to simply only look at what's bad...and part of the purpose of this website is to highlight what is good in Cincinnati.

In 2010 you will certainly find some critical discussions surrounding historic preservation and the policies currently employed in Cincinnati on UrbanCincy, but as for now I think it's important to at least recognize what good has been done because I think we are making progress albeit slow.

Anonymous said...

Paul Wilham is just another Cincinnati hating wingnut tool. This City is in no way "well on our way to becoming the next Detroit". Such a statement would only be made by a extremely ignorant person, and one who has obviously never been to Detroit.

What's the matter Paul, won't the City dole out some cash for you to work on another house?

Since you hate this City so much Paul, why don't you pack up and get the freak out of town? Go to some other city that's more deserving of your so-called gifted efforts.

Paul Wilham said...

Cincy Capell,

1)Detroit? Been there several times and have studied Detroit's Urban Renewal Model (Blight=Bulldozer) extensively, which now even Detroit admits was a mistake.

2.)Ignorant? 20 plus Years experience in Historic restoration, preservation, urban planning and zoning law.

3.)Cash? We totally self finance our own projects and I would venture to say I've invested more in Cincinnati in the last year than you have in a decade.

4.) Cincinati Hater? Hardly, my Cincinnati based preservation blog was voted one of the best blogs by Cincinnati Magazine, The Cincinnati Enquirer did a very positive story on our restoration and community building efforts, and I have been personally responsible for bringing several new residents to Cincinnati who are now restoring here and we have assitsted in several Preservation saves this year. Just what have YOU dome Mr Capell this year to promote Cincinnati?

Hope you have a great 2010 Mr. Capell and I hope you get your anger issues worked out.

Randy Simes said...

I appreciate all of the comments thus far, but lets please try to keep the discussion respectful and avoid personal attacks. Thank you.

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